Blog, Family, Healthy Living, Helpful MOM Tips

Thoughts on breastfeeding {after 40 months of it}

July 20, 2015
Thoughts on Breastfeeding ... as it comes to an end | Via View From The Fridge

“This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and healthy mama® , but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #gethealthymama  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Do you know what this is:

Thoughts on Breastfeeding ...  as it comes to an end  |  Via View From The Fridge

An ugly awkward shaped purse?  Does this help:

Thoughts on Breastfeeding ...  as it comes to an end  |  Via View From The Fridge

Yes, it’s my breast pump and it’s officially retired.  We’re done, Ben and I.  This pump that’s been through nine kids (3 of my sisters … 3 of her friends kiddos … and now we just finished with the third Stahl boy).  And she’s still a-pumpin’.

Pictures of breast pumps not exactly what you were expecting this Monday morning here on View From The Fridge?  Sorry about that.  And also I’m warning you that this entire post is about breastfeeding and my thoughts on it now that Ben quit cold turkey on me a couple weeks ago.  If you stop reading now, I won’t be offended.  If you have absolutely no interest in hearing about nursing and my experience (or if you’re my brother or brother-in-law), stop back tomorrow for some less personal stuff (and no talk of boobs, I promise).

I felt like I had to write this post.  Something I’ve done for the past 13 months every single day deserves a little mention here, right?  And actually (if you count Owen and Charlie’s time nursing) … it’s something I’ve done in total for about 40 months (that’s 3 1/3 years of the last 5 years of my life).  It probably deserves a whole series of posts with that kind of time investment, but I’ll spare you the gory details and keep it to just this one.

Thoughts on Breastfeeding ...  as it comes to an end  |  Via View From The Fridge

I’m fairly certain that Ben is our last baby.  Just writing that makes me a little sad, but as the days go by with three little ones at foot, I’m moving closer and closer to Matt’s stance that this is it … that our family is complete.  And if it is it … I’m beyond grateful for these three little boys that make our lives so much happier (and crazier, and more chaotic).

I’m also very grateful to have been able to breastfeed all three of these guys until at least a year.  There were times with Owen that I was sure that was not going to be feasible.  There were times with Charlie (most while I was pumping in a bathroom 3 times a day at work) that I almost gave up.  And there were times with Ben that I didn’t think I was producing anything for him (and that I was surely going to have to supplement).  But I made it … 12 months with Owen, 15 with Charlie, and 13 with Ben (that’s 40 months of nursing!!).  And for that, I feel so lucky.

Thoughts on Breastfeeding ...  as it comes to an end  |  Via View From The Fridge

But as I look back over these 40 months of nursing three babies, there were many, many emotions other than just gratitude.

As I look back at the days just after Owen was born, the first thing I can remember about nursing was of it being completely awkward and me being completely clueless.  Owen didn’t latch on at first (probably more my fault for being so clueless about the whole thing), and after meeting with the lactation consultant for two days in a row at the hospital and having her, all the nurses, Matt, and who knows who else looking at my boobs, moving them around, instructing me on how to shove them in my baby’s mouth was a bit awkward for me.  They also had me use a nipple shield to help Owen latch for the first couple weeks … also a bit awkward.  Really … I thought I had prepared well for breastfeeding.  We had taken a breastfeeding class at our clinic, I had read a couple books about it.  The truth is, however (at least for me), that it’s a whole different thing when you have a real baby that moves and cries and gets frustrated that you’re trying to get to latch onto you in just the right way all while your boobs are huge and full of milk (something else completely foreign to me at the time).

And speaking of boobs full of milk … I guess I didn’t realize how uncomfortable and painful breastfeeding could be.  I didn’t realize that in the hospital, in those days right after giving birth, that you actually experience mild contractions again while your baby is nursing.  While these contractions were nowhere near those of labor, they didn’t feel great.  Then your milk comes in and your boobs are rock hard and it’s the strangest feeling in the world (and getting your baby to latch on to relieve the pressure is even more of a challenge).  Then, after a week or so of nursing your baby every two-three hours, your nipples get sore and cracked and bleed and every time you go to start nursing your baby you sort of want to rip them off your breast.

BUT … after those initial couple weeks of the awkwardness, the uncomfortableness, and the confusion … we totally fell into our stride, and it was awesome!  That last paragraph made nursing sound like something awful, and it’s SO far from that (most of the time).  With Owen, he nursed for like 45 minutes each time, but I didn’t mind that time!  Every time I hear Nora Jones I still think of that time with Owen when he was a tiny newborn.  It was our song, and I’d play it every time we’d nurse in his room.  Sometimes we’d nurse while watching HGTV during the day and then we’d both nap for a bit.  I miss those days when all I had to do each day was hang out with my new baby.

As the months went on, however, I’d be lying if I didn’t sometimes feel trapped by breastfeeding.  Luckily, Owen took a bottle fine, but I still had to be near him or my pump every three hours of everyday.  And night (he wasn’t a great sleeper).  There were so many times I remember finding a somewhat hidden parking spot to pump in the car in a parking lot.  I also became quite familiar with what places had nursing rooms (and surprisingly … most places do!).  Road trips of anything longer than about two hours became much more of a process when you had to stop to feed a baby (especially when that baby took a good 45 to fill up).  I remember our first trip to Iowa to see Matt’s parents took about 5 hours rather than the normal 3.5 (and neither weather or traffic were the issues …).  But really … being near Owen or a pump 24/7 really wasn’t such a bad deal.  I think God did that intentionally when he designed breastfeeding.  A mama should be with her newborn as much as possible, right?!?

And then there was the stress of stock piling my milk so I could keep feeding Owen breast milk when I went back to work after three months.  I was vigilant about pumping in between feedings twice a day to start building my stock.  And, thankfully, it worked!  I do remember, however, one storm that knocked out our power for nearly 24 hours.  I couldn’t have cared less about our food in the refrigerator, but I was near panic attack stage with the thought of loosing my 200+ ounces of frozen breast milk.  Ahhh … the things that become a priority when you become a mom!!

Pumping at work was the next ‘challenge’, and it went smoothly with Owen!  With Charlie, it was a bit more of an awkward situation (I had a different job in a building without a nursing room and with mostly all men), but I still made it work!

Thoughts on Breastfeeding ...  as it comes to an end  |  Via View From The Fridge

Nursing this time around, has been a bit different.  I didn’t go back to work after Ben, so I didn’t have the stress of stock piling my milk or figuring out how to pump at work.  I did, however, have two energetic preschoolers at foot who didn’t always understand why mom had to sit still for 10 minutes to feed their baby brother.  Yes … Ben has always been a fast eater;  10 minute tops (and compared to Owen’s 45 minutes, this was a welcome change!).  Having two older brothers around meant that we had to nurse on the go a lot.  In the van waiting for preschool to be over.  In the parking lot of the hockey rink before skating practice, and … for that matter, in the hockey rink amongst the crowd of moms watching their little hockey players.  in the gym before a class.  On a bench at the park.  On our friends boat.  Basically we nursed everywhere we went.  We had to.  There wasn’t a whole lot of peacefully rocking to Nora Jones while I fed Ben, his older brothers made sure of that.  I did, however, become very skilled at multi-tasking while nursing.  I’m pretty sure I could even make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in one hand while nursing Ben in the other.  I think I even chased Molly back into the house after she escaped, all while Ben nursed.  Ahhhh … the skills you pick up when you become a mom.  Who knew?!?

The end of nursing this time came abruptly.  With Owen and Charlie we just naturally eased off.  It was sort of a mutual weaning those times.  They seemed to be less and less interested, and I was able to slowly get used to the idea of being done.  This time with Ben, however, he just refused to nurse one day and that was it.  No easing into it.  We were going full steam and then nothing.  And this caught me a little off guard.  I was thinking ahead to the end of breastfeeding, but didn’t expect it to come so soon (especially with {probably} my last baby).  I was a little sad about the whole thing for a couple days.  Did I do something wrong?  Was Ben fed up with me and my multi-tasking during his nursing sessions?  And, speaking of multi-tasking … I started to feel guilty of not soaking in that time with Ben as much as I should have.  Did I really need to check those emails while nursing?  But then the guilt and the sadness went away, and I was actually happy to be done.  It felt like I instantly had a little more freedom.  Matt could now give Ben a bottle before bed and I could tuck Owen and Charlie in.  I could go to that concert for 6 hours and not bring my pump.  I could fly out to Chicago in a couple weeks without having to tote my pump through security (they are always a bit perplexed by it).  I could drink 2 glasses of wine with dinner and not even think twice about Ben getting any of that alcohol.  And so I did.  Cheers to 40 awesome months of breastfeeding … that certainly called for a toast.

One thing, however, that was the same with all three boys is the constant pressure to eat right.  I guess I never thought this completely through when I was pregnant with Owen, but basically from the time start trying to conceive until the time you are done breastfeeding … that baby is relying {mostly} on you for all their nutrients.  This is obvious during pregnancy, but in my mind I never really thought that … for the next year after birth, I still had to watch what went in my mouth.  Did I eat enough calcium today?  How about enough vegetables?  Do onions bother Ben?  Does Charlie have an issue with dairy?  Can I use this medicine?  How much caffeine does this have in it?  Is this supplement safe?  It’s exhausting and at times overwhelming.  There’s so much to know and so many questions to ask.

But, now that Ben is done nursing, guess what product line I stumbled upon?  healthy mama®.  A company that has a whole line of products to help during pregnancy and breastfeeding.  These products are developed by doctors and nutritionists and it’s sort of like a one-stop-shop for any pregnancy / breastfeeding ailment.  They’ve even helped create a whole new section at Target for prenatal care items.  Now … if you have heartburn and nausea, stop over to this section and rest assured it’s approved for pregnant and/or nursing moms.  Where was this section a year ago?  Or 5 years ago?  It would have saved me a ton of time looking up each medicine to see if it was approved or safe for pregnant / nursing moms.  It’s kind of like that that time that our elementary school got a brand new playground … the summer after I was done there.  Or the time I endured construction on our road everyday for 3+ years just to move right when the finished (and much more convenient and efficient) new road was complete.  healthy mama®‘s line of products is such a great idea to help soon-to-be moms and brand new moms … maybe we should have a fourth?? (joking … mostly).

Thoughts on Breastfeeding ...  as it comes to an end  |  Via View From The Fridge

Now … because I was curious, I went out and bought a couple of their products at Target (in the new Prenatal Care section … near the tampons :)).  One of my favorite parts about these products is their names.  Tame The Flame!® for heartburn relief.  Move it Along!® for constipation issues.  Shake The Ache!® for those lovely pregnancy and post-pregnancy aches and pains.

Thoughts on Breastfeeding ...  as it comes to an end  |  Via View From The Fridge

I decided to give Boost It Up!® Protein Energy Drink a try.  This is designed for both pregnant moms AND nursing moms.  It helps reduce nausea during pregnancy, but also provides a boost of nutrition (protein, fiber, B-vitamins, electrolytes, etc) that is helpful to both pregnant and nursing moms (and, actually … just moms in general … who doesn’t need a boost every once in a while)?!?  And it tastes great!  I tried the mango and ginger flavor, and it was light and not-too-sweet.

Next up … Make The Milk! tea.

Thoughts on Breastfeeding ...  as it comes to an end  |  Via View From The Fridge

Now … I don’t actually want my boobs to produce any more milk right now (since Ben has been holding tight to his nursing strike), I was curious to see what this concoction (made with fenugreek, fennel, and anise) tasted like.  I had it warm, and it was good!  It can also be made iced, which I’m sure would be tasty (especially in July), too!

I love that healthy mama® has put it right in their mission to ‘Develop the highest quality products free of dye, gluten and parabens and all natural, non-gmo and organic.’  And I love that they are working to create an entirely new section at retailers devoted to prenatal / postnatal care.  One less thing for new or soon-to-be moms to worry about!

I’m hoping that some new mamas that I know can now benefit from this line of products.  It’s a great concept, and a company that has a wonderful mission at heart.  Because let’s face it … there are {plenty} of times during those 9 months of pregnancy or those next months of nursing that you feel a little less-than-glowing.  And that Boost It Up! drink just might be helpful for moms with three energetic boys at home this summer (even if the last one just quit nursing)!

So … a goodbye to my faithful pump and all those full accessories that go with it, and an introduction to this new line of healthy mama® products!

Thoughts on Breastfeeding ... as it comes to an end | Via View From The Fridge

I guess, to sum it all up … breastfeeding is a journey.  It’s weird and awkward, it’s uncomfortable and painful, and it’s exhausting, but it’s also a priceless experience and something I feel so grateful to have been able to do.  I know there are moms out there that would love to have been able to breastfeed for even one week or one month, and I realize how fortunate I really was through all of this.  I also realize that there are plenty of moms that just don’t want to breastfeed, and I think that is great, too!  I honestly, honestly, honestly don’t judge however you decide to feed your baby!  Formula is a great choice, too, and with all the technology out there these days … who knows … it’s probably healthier than my milk!  :)

I’d love to hear your experiences with breastfeeding or not breastfeeding your little ones?  Do you have any regrets?  Lessons learned?  Thoughts when you look back on that time?

Thanks for sticking with this post and with me today!  I promise to not say boob or nipple or breast in my next posts for a while. :)  Stop back tomorrow for some craftiness …

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10 Comments

  • Reply Amanda @ Dwelling in Happiness July 20, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    I totally relate! I was able to breastfeed Jade for 17 months. I LOVED it. I wouldn’t trade those special moments for anything in the world. I was sad for days when my milk ran out and Jade stopped nursing before bed. That was our special time, and I was bummed it came to an end! The Healthy Mama products look great, I had never heard of them!
    Amanda @ Dwelling in Happiness recently posted…Motivational Monday 46My Profile

    • Reply Katie July 20, 2015 at 7:58 pm

      I know! They are awesome and the more I read about the company, the more I think it’s a great concept and great brand. Saves some research and worry just knowing that the products were designed by OB’s and nutritionists!

  • Reply Amberly July 20, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    Breastfeeding was hard for me because our baby had to be bottle fed from the beginning and my supply would not increase no matter what I did. I wish I’d known about healthy mama then so I could have tried the tea and other things. I have a plan for next time to hopefully help me have more success, we’ll see how it goes.
    Amberly recently posted…Keeping Myself Healthy for ThemMy Profile

    • Reply Katie July 20, 2015 at 7:56 pm

      Thanks for the note, Amberly. I can’t imagine having to pump and then feed your baby with a bottle. I’ve had friends that tried to do this, too, and it’s so hard! Good luck next time!!

  • Reply Lucy Mills July 20, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    I wish I was still breastfeeding! I miss it every minute!

    • Reply Katie July 20, 2015 at 8:33 pm

      I am sad and happy all at the same time. I do miss it, though!!

  • Reply Hil July 21, 2015 at 9:04 am

    Visiting from Turn it up Tuesdays, I have been breastfeeding for almost 28 months and you are right it can be very challenging. I had a similar start to you, having issues with my first and ended up needing a nipple shield. I tandem nurse my 7-month-old and 2-year-old and did all throughout my pregnancy. With two breastfeeding now I also find I feel a little bit trapped sometimes and need to be there at bedtime, overnight for my baby, and in the morning, it can really limit your schedule, but is in itself a different reward and I would not have it any other way. Nice to know others feel the same way sometimes!

    • Reply Katie July 24, 2015 at 8:32 am

      It is so nice to hear how other’s are feeling! Way to go on 28 months, mama!! Thanks for your comment!

  • Reply Heart July 22, 2015 at 9:37 am

    You were right, Katie. Breastfeeding is very painful at first. But once you’re used to it, that’s no longer a burden. Feeling the milk rushing towards your baby’s mouth while looking at each other’s eyes makes a special connection between the two of you. For me, it’s magical.

    • Reply Katie July 24, 2015 at 8:30 am

      Oh … so sweet! I’m so thankful that we were successful with each boy!

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